Breath Work › Nikita Akilapa
Far from being simply a physical exercise, yoga encompasses a wide range of techniques and practices. On this page we are building up a range of tutorials to develop and perfect your skills in the yogic arts of pranayama (breathing techniques) With time these practices will serve to deepen and enrich your work on the mat and broaden your outlook on life.
Meditation: Soft Pause
In the final part in our Introduction to Meditation Series, we start to watch the top and the bottom of our breath. You'll notice that there are round edges to the inhale and exhale, where each breath gently reaches a peak and then gives rise to the next. Either simply watch these spaces between breaths or gently hold for a moment at the top of each inhale, and pause for a moment at the bottom of the exhale.
Meditation: Exploring the Breath
In the fourth part in our Introduction to Meditation Series with Nikita, we learn how to explore breath patterns as a means to change the way we feel. Allow the exhale to be twice as long as the inhale to give the body a chance of releasing all the old, to make space for the fresh new oxygenated air to flow in fully. Start at an equal breath (e.g. inhale for six seconds and exhale for six seconds) then increase gradually to a ratio of 1:1.5 (e.g. inhaling for six seconds and exhaling for nine seconds). Eventually, breathing to a ratio of 1:2 (e.g. inhaling for six and exhaling for 12 seconds). Maintain for up to about 20 breaths and then return to normal breath. If you are asthmatic, you may find that it's tricky to get to the full 1:2 ratio at first, in which case stay at 1:1.5. This is another great technique you might want to use as a tool to anchor an anxious mind any time you feel overwhelmed.
Meditation: Counting the Breath
In the third part in our Introduction to Meditation series, we start to count the breath. Get settled in a comfortable spot, either sitting or lying down, and begin to count your breaths backwards from 20 to 1. Say to yourself mentally, I am breathing in 20, I am breathing out 20. I am breathing in 19, I am breathing out 19, and so on until you reach 1. If you notice your mind has wandered away from this focus, draw it back. If you lose your count, start again. If you manage to get all the way to 1, try starting at 50 next time. You might want to use this exercise as a tool to anchor an anxious mind any time you feel overwhelmed.
Meditation: Feeling the Breath
In the second part in our introduction to meditation class we notice the breath within the body. Notice the body's involuntary response to your inhalations and exhalations; from the most obvious, loudest reactions (like the rise and fall of the chest, the expansion and release of the mid body) - to the more subtle and quieter ones (like the gentle drawing back behind the eyes as you inhale, to the sensation of the palms of the hands as you exhale). Notice how you feel before and after doing this short meditation class, you might be surprised at how effective just a few minutes in meditation can be!